Friday, March 27, 2009

p.s. pull over - seconds can save

It’s been a while! I haven’t been writing much because I don’t seem to have much to write about (which is good in ways!).

One thing that I thought was blog-worthy was my neighbour’s passing a couple of weeks ago. He was a nice old guy who worked till the day he died (literally – he took the bus everyday an hour to a shopping mall where he worked as a tailor just to keep himself active).

He & his wife have lived across the street from our house for a million years. In fact, they lived there when our side of the block was a factory. They’re a nice old couple who waved and made conversation with us (as much as we could with our different languages). My DH shovels their snow in the winter and we generally look out for them.

I noticed something was up a few Friday’s ago when I was going out to work in the morning and saw that their 3 adult kid’s cars were parked in front of their house. At 8:00 am on a Friday? Hmm.

When I got home from work, they were still there so I knew something had happened. I wasn’t sure whether I should go over or let them have their space and privacy so I peeked across the street now & then. The occasional person would come out and stand on the porch for fresh air (or a smoke!) and stare off looking very sad. Oh my heart broke for them as I recognized what they were going through. I remember the day my father died was horrible and the empty & sick feeling that went along with it. The first parent to die is always quite shocking as it's new territory. Later in the evening, I finally went upstairs to stop watching the scene and making myself sad. I avoid sad movies and songs at all costs just because I can’t seem to take them but here I am glued to the front window like some cat watching a bird outside.

The next day, I finally asked one of the kids and he confirmed that his dad had passed away. I almost said “Welcome to Club O” but stopped myself.

Later that day, I brought some flowers and a card over to the house where I was greeted by the wife of the man and another kid. The wife spoke rapidly in her language which was instantaneously translated by the kid. It was almost like verbal subtitles! She said it was her husband’s 77th birthday that week and they were planning on a family party that weekend but instead they were having his funeral. I had to hold myself back from crying with her. I looked at this woman and saw how my mom must have looked to other people when my father died. She looked so sad, scared and alone. The kids looked so sad and unsure of what to do. I looked at the kids and felt great sadness for them, wondering if their mom would become like my mom did. I have noticed over the years that their mom had been a bit “off” here & there. Nothing huge, just subtle actions that I noted might be early signs of dementia. For example, she would act a bit strangely towards us somedays (when we’ve been nothing but friendly & helpful) and her husband would shake his head and try to cover up her behaviour.

It’s funny how sad I felt while watching this family’s tragedy unfold across the street. I think it’s something that once you’ve been through it, the “feeling” sticks with you so when you see a similar scene, you are flooded with memories. It’s the same when I see emergency vehicles on their way to a call. Between my father & my mother, I’ve had to call for help and ride in more ambulances than the average person. When I see the flashing lights and hear the sirens, I feel very mildly sick and panicked for a moment because I know the feeling of helplessness while waiting for help to arrive. Your parent is having his/her 1st, 2nd or 3rd heart attack or lying dead in your living room (I experienced all of the above by age 17!) and you’re just praying for the ambulance to get there and take over. Or you’re riding in the back of the ambulance with your parent and just wanting to get to the hospital. It’s probably the reason I get so angry at drivers who don’t pull over and let emergency vehicles by when they’re wailing along…every second counts as it could literally mean life or death.

Wow, what started as a short post became quite a therapy session! It’s amazing how things subconsciously stick with you after traumatic life events and how other people’s tragedies can trigger things, such as a blog entry!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I’m back

Hello readers! I’m back. I enjoyed my trip with my DH immensely. It was perfect weather, a nice resort and a great beach. I was in the ocean everyday as long as I could be; I find the ocean very therapeutic and almost healing in some weird way. It’s amazing how much difference a holiday can make in your life and well being.

It was my first real holiday since my mom passed and it was completely different than any holiday before: I didn’t have the anxiety, worry and guilt that I used to carry. I didn’t hit the ceiling every time the hotel room phone rang. I didn’t sit on the beach and worry about being unreachable. I didn’t have crazy thoughts tormenting me about what was happening back home. For the first time in my adult life, I felt free. I even thought to myself “I could stay another week and not have any guilt or worry. Nobody is dependent on me anymore”. It’s almost like I’ve had a child for the past 16 years and now I’m experiencing the freedom that most young adults usually experience. Now, of course, I feel horribly guilty about saying these things because I feel like I’m saying that my mom was a burden or something. That’s not the case and I would give anything to still have her with me and I never begrudge anything I ever did for her. I’m just trying to honestly describe how I felt on holiday.

Of course, I had a few “moments” on the holiday. In ways, the freedom was a bit overwhelming, bittersweet and sad so I had a few teary moments by myself during the week. It’s weird having someone NEED you for so long and then to not have that anymore. Sometimes while I was wading in the ocean, I would stare off into the horizon and think about the years and all that has happened. I have regrets about some things but overall, I think I did the best I could. The one main thing that I regret most is running out of patience with my mom somedays but when you’re knee-deep in the situation, you can’t help but crack sometimes. I also lament that my siblings are completely whacked but I don’t think I can really help that situation.

I also had a horrendous nightmare about my mom one night on holiday that still gives me the shivers. I dreamt that my mom had passed away and my sibling & I had to transport her body (long side-story going on in the dream about the funeral home & why we had to transport ourselves). Anyways...we put mom’s body in the car in the backseat with me so I could keep my arm across her as a seatbelt. We were driving along (backwards, for some unknown reason) when my mom opened her eyes and started talking to me. It was terrible. She was saying words and phrases that mostly didn’t make any sense (for those who watch Battlestar Galactica, think of the Hybrid in the resurrection tub). I was bawling my eyes out, freaking out and at the same time, feeling grateful for these moments to say good-bye to her, which is something I never did in real life. She called me the pet name that she used to call me and then I woke up. I’ve actually had a few nightmares like that over the past 8 months. It’s amazing how graphic and real dreams can be.

So...back to normal day-to-day life. Dare I say that I’m feeling a bit better these days? Ok, let’s not get crazy. I’m not over-the-top and ready to write a sequel to The Secret but I’m doing a bit better. I think the combination of time, more daylight and a much-needed vacation have helped me along a bit. I’m sure I’ll still have bad days now & then but I’m pretty sure I’m rounding a corner in my journey.